Travel to Canada, Mexico, and the Adjacent Islands

Planning a trip to Canada, Mexico or the Adjacent Caribbean Islands?

Your first step is to determine if you need a visa to enter Canada, Mexico or a Caribbean Islands?  Citizens of some countries will need an entry visa.  Well in advance of your departure, check the links below to determine if you need an entry visa.

Returning to the U.S. under the Automatic Revalidation of Visa  provision

Most students and scholars (except citizens from Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan or Syria) can re-enter the U.S. under a provision called Automatic Revalidation.  This allows certain U.S. visa holders to re-enter the U.S. after a visit of less than 30 days to a “contiguous territory” (Canada, Mexico, and, in the case of F and J non-immigrants, the “adjacent islands other than Cuba”) with an expired U.S. visa. Please speak to an OISS adviser if you have questions about this provision.

  • If you are in F or J visa status, you must have a printed copy of your I-94 record, a valid passport, and a current form I-20 or DS-2019 (with valid travel signature) plus a previously-issued U.S. embassy visa stamp (which could be expired, or even in a different category than the I-94 if a change of status has been approved in the U.S.).
  • Persons in H-1 or O-1 status are also eligible to use the automatic revalidation for trips of less than 30 days - but only to Canada or Mexico. The H or O scholar must have a valid I-94 record, passport and a USCIS issued I-797 Approval Notice for their current employer.

Automatic revalidation of visa does NOT apply if you:

  • Apply for a new U.S. visa in Canada, Mexico or the adjacent islands. If you apply for a new visa, you must wait until that visa is issued to return to the U.S.  If the visa is denied you will not be able to return to the U.S.
  • Travel to any other country before returning to the U.S. from Canada or Mexico
If Applying for a U.S. Visa at a U.S. Consulate in an Adjacent Country

It can be both difficult and more complicated when applying for a visa in countries adjacent to the U.S., if you are not a citizen of that country. Please speak to an OISS adviser before making plans to apply for a visa while inside one of these countries. Please note that U.S. consulates in Mexico often reserve visa services just for those who live in Mexico, or those “third country nationals” who are renewing the same type of visa.

Traveling to Cuba

The U.S. still has an economic embargo against Cuba which includes certain types of travel. Tourism continues to be prohibited according to the Office of Foreign Asset Control (see item #8.) The embargo affects people currently living in the U.S. including international students and scholars. Traveling through other countries prior to arriving in Cuba does not change whether or not you are subject to the embargo (see item #36.) There are specific educational activities that are permitted in Cuba. For details please read the Yale International Toolkit about travel to Cuba before planning your trip. If you do travel to Cuba Automatic Revalidation does not apply. This means you must have a valid visa to return to the U.S. from Cuba, and obtaining a new U.S. visa from the embassy in Havana can be time consuming.